Aichi E13A (Jake) Naval Reconnaissance Floatplane Aircraft
The Aichi E13A Jake became the most important floatplane for the Japanese Navy in World War Two.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Based on number alone, the Aichi production E13A series of floatplanes (dubbed "Jake" by the Allies) was the most important such aircraft type for the Japanese Navy during the Second World War. The system was fielded in quantity in the early 1940's and were charged with reconnoitering the American Navy based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, prior to the infamous December 7th attack. A tremendous design with durability and endurance to boot, the E13A would serve through the end of the war, notoriously in Kamikaze attacks on advancing American naval convoys.
The E13A was a three-crew low-monoplane aircraft with pontoons fitted in place of traditional landing gear systems. The initial need for the floatplane stemmed from a Japanese naval requirement for a new floatplane to replace the aging Kawanishi E7K2 series. As such, offers to the Aichi, Kawanishi and Nakajima aircraft firms were made to promote a competitive trial. At the end, only a Aichi and Kawanishi design remained, with the Aichi design getting the go ahead. A prototype was then produced and ordered into production after 1940.
Though limited in number at first, the E13A series made some initial carrier-based land-strikes and reconnaissance missions that promoted the use of this aircraft type. As such, the floatplane would be fielded regularly with future cruiser groups and mounted to catapults on Japanese battleships. Standard armament would consist of 1 x 20mm downward-firing cannon and a single 7.7mm machine gun in the rear cockpit. External stores were limited to a single 551lb bomb or depth charge as needed.
Aichi "Jakes" were utilized more importantly for their reconnaissance initiative than their strike capability (limited as they were in that respect). Reconnoiter missions would include the scouting of Pearl Harbor and the famous miscommunication reconnoiter mission for American battle groups in the early rounds of the Battle of Midway, leaving many carrier-based attack aircraft ready for action on the Japanese carrier decks, but waiting for the reconnaissance reports to come in.
The Aichi E13A would serve through to the end of the war, though limited with each passing month by the power of the new generation of American carrier-based fighters and the ever-advancing American forces. "Jakes", as other aircraft of this type, would later be relegated to Kamikaze attacks on American ships in the hopes of damaging psyche and disrupting supplies and combat capabilities. In the end, the masterful aircraft would be highly regarded as the best floatplane that Japan could field and the 1,418 such production models would attest to that.